What’s the Deal with Suicidal Kermit?
OCT 25, 2023
What’s the Deal with Suicidal Kermit?
For many parents, the word Kermit immediately brings up memories of the beloved green frog from the Muppets. Perhaps the tune of “Rainbow Connection” or even Kermit’s interactions with Miss Piggy as she shouts, “Hi Ya,” come to mind.
But for many kids today, the word Kermit might bring a darker idea to mind.
A Kermit suicide meme has recently become popular online. It uses the word “Kermit” as a pun on the word “commit.” And when Kermit is accompanied by the word suicide, red flags immediately go up for parents and we worry about our child’s mental health.
Kermit Jumping Off a Building: The Origin of the Meme
In early 2018, a YouTuber posted a VRChat video where a player, portrayed by Kermit, is chased by a second player whose human hands can be seen.
As Kermit runs away, the second player is heard saying they want to get “frisky” with Kermit. In his desperation to get away, Kermit jumps off the roof of a building while yelling, “I am going to Kermit suicide.”
The clip went viral within a few days, with Kermit suicide gifs gaining millions of views on Reddit, Vine, and other platforms. As with many popular videos, imitators went on to create both copycat versions and original content inspired by the clip, including a Kermit suicide song.
A quick search online pulls up memes of Kermit attempting suicide in various ways such as drinking bleach, hanging himself, and holding a gun to his mouth.
Suicide Kermit is definitely not the Kermit we as parents grew up with.
Memes and Gen Z
Memes have become a part of how kids communicate in the digital world. Using images together with sarcasm, irony, and mockery to discuss current events has become a form of user-generated content that resonates with younger generations.
One study explains that kids love to engage with and create memes because they are a way to express themselves and participate in digital culture. Another study found that memes simplify complex ideas and make them more accessible and engaging for kids.
Older parents may not see the appeal of sharing their feelings online. Many of us grew up hiding our deepest thoughts in journals carefully hidden from our parents and siblings. In contrast, today’s kids use social media as their own diaries, exposing their feelings openly for all to see. So while suicidal ideation is complicated and difficult to process, it’s not surprising that kids use memes to express these feelings online.
Warning Signs of Suicide
Sharing questionable memes online does not necessarily mean your child is struggling mentally. The Mayo Clinic has a list of warning signs to help better identify if a child might be suicidal:
- Is the child talking or writing about harming themselves?
- Have they started using drugs and alcohol?
- Do they talk about feeling trapped or helpless about a situation?
- Are they doing risky things?
- Are they giving away personal items for no reason?
- Are they having mood swings?
- Have they isolated themselves and started avoiding social situations?
- Have their eating and sleeping patterns changed?
Addressing Suicide with Children
Memes are often used humorously. However, joking about suicide is no laughing matter. Comedy can be a coping mechanism for some people who are dealing with underlying emotional distress or mental health issues. Jokes about serious topics such as suicide should be taken seriously.
The use of slang terms or emojis to express suicidal ideation is not uncommon for kids. And other online trends, like “back to school necklace,” play a similar role in young people’s conversations. It helps to be aware of the terms so you can talk to your kids if they come up.
Contrary to popular belief, talking to your child about suicide will not plant the idea in their head. In fact, research shows that talking about suicide can offer relief and empowerment. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your child and talk about their feelings. Listen and avoid diminishing those feelings.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24 in the United States.—Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Parents can also help prevent suicide by encouraging a healthy lifestyle. This may look different for your family, but some ideas include helping your kids eat balanced meals, exercise, get plenty of sleep, spend time with good friends and family, and avoid social media.
If you believe your teen is a threat to themselves, call 911, or a suicide helpline immediately. You can reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988. This service is accessible around the clock, seven days a week. Lifeline Chat is another option of contact. These services are cost-free and confidential. There is also a Spanish language phone line available at 888-628-9454 (toll-free).
There is no shame in getting help, talking to a mental health professional, or even taking medicine if advised by a doctor. Always err on the side of caution and take comments about suicide seriously.
What has worked for you as a parent when discussing difficult topics? Share in the comments to help other concerned parents.